2012 Young Mothers

Alaska – Cheryl Wika
Cheryl, a born and bred Alaskan, received a bachelor’s degree in physiology. Over
20 years ago, she married Greg Wika, and they reside in Anchorage with their three
daughters. A stay-at-home mother throughout her children’s lives, she has helped
teach Sunday school, mentored Girl Scout troops, orchestrated community service
projects, led fundraisers, and coached children’s teams through Boys and Girls Club
and YMCA. Her parenting philosophy is focused on unconditional love, encouragement
and support, gentle nurturing and guidance, and developing a lifelong practice
of prayer to help her family face everyday challenges.

Arizona – Melissa Bawden
Melissa has approached life with an ear for harmony and an eye on happiness.
Active in singing and dancing throughout her childhood, she received vocal performance
scholarships to attend Northern Arizona University. When she was 21,
she went on an 18-month proselyting mission for her church. Upon returning, she
graduated with honors in vocal performance and elementary education and later
earned her master’s from NAU. Melissa taught school until she gave birth to her
first child. Melissa was married to Erickson Reece Bawden until his untimely death
in 2007. She resides in Mesa with her four children.

California – Darcy Ure
The product of a large family, Darcy achieved an early childhood education degree
from Brigham Young University and pursued her dream of teaching children.
She married the love of her life, Nathan Ure, and became the mother of six children.
Today, she serves in her church and school communities, and enjoys interior design,
photography, and fitness.

Georgia – Jessica Peterson
Georgia native Jessica Peterson grew up with a love of science and the great outdoors.
Jessica pursued these educational interests at Georgia College and State
University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Outdoor Education, and later,
her master’s degree in teaching. After teaching in the redwood forests of California
and in the mountains of North Carolina, Jessica became a middle school science
teacher, eventually earning distinction as Teacher of the Year. Committed to lifelong
learning, she obtained an Education Specialist degree from Brenau University,
and is completing her doctoral work in education at Walden University. She and her
husband, Dustin, are the parents of a two-year-old daughter.

Hawaii – Janny Keala Gibson
Janny Keala Gibson was born and raised in Kailua on the island of Oahu. She
received her bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University with a dual major in
early and elementary education. She married her high school sweetheart, Nainoa
Gibson, 14 years ago, and will celebrate their anniversary with their four children.
Today, Janny runs a preschool/childcare in her home, and serves as Lanikai’s Public
Charter School PTSA President and volunteers in her community. She loves learning,
running, and caring for her family.

Idaho – Stephanie Harris
Stephanie lives in Idaho with her favorite cowboy, CJ Harris, and their eight boisterous
children. She and her family gleefully spend their days home schooling, gathering
eggs, practicing music, praying, singing, laughing, and enjoying time together as
a family. As a parent, Stephanie takes great pride in centering her family spiritually
and nurturing everyone around her.

Indiana - Jill Adams
Jill Adams was born in New Jersey, and relocated to Fort Wayne in 2001 to be closer
to family. Today, she and her husband, James, are the proud parents of three children.
An avid reader, Jill experiences adventures through her favorite novels when
she’s not inhabiting libraries, parks, and nature trails with her family. In 2008, Jill
left a demanding marketing and public relations career to focus on her family, and
established her own communications firm. Her company has flourished as a resource
for social media marketing, and allows Jill the work/life balance essential to
professional mothers today.

New Hampshire – Amber Jensen
Born in Provo, Utah, Amber is the oldest of seven children. She attended Brigham
Young University and spent four years studying graphic design with an 18 month
break as a Spanish-speaking missionary in Santiago, Chile. Amber later married
Ryan Jensen and graduated from BYU’s MBA program. Upon graduation, Amber
became an adjunct faculty member for WGU, teaching business courses from home.
Now living in Bedford, NH, Amber is a stay-at-home mother to her four children.
She teaches piano, works with her church woman’s organization, and is a team manager
for Destination Imagination.

Nevada – Erin Cranor
Born and raised in Southeast Idaho, Erin studied developmental biology and pharmacokinetics
while earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brigham Young
University. Erin and her husband, Bud, are raising their four children in Las Vegas,
where she volunteers in the classroom, school district, and at state levels. She was
elected in 2010 to the Board of Trustees of the nation’s fifth largest school district,
and was named Nevada New School Board Member of the Year in 2011. A freelance
technical writer for a youth development organization, Erin tries to keep up with her
kids in 5K and 10K races.

Oklahoma - Carrie Leonard
Wife, mother, and community volunteer Carrie learned the value of service at a
young age. She and her husband, Ryan, are the proud parents of four children.
Before becoming a mother, Carrie earned degrees at the University of Virginia and
the University of Oklahoma College of Law. Over the years, she has volunteered
for: Christ the King School, the Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences, Lyric
Theatre, Friends of the Mansion, the Junior League of Oklahoma City, Girl Scouts,
the Annie Oakley Society, and the American Heart Association. She has worked as
the Director of Development for White Fields, a home for neglected and abused
boys, practiced law, and been a stay-at-home mother.

Oregon – Amanda Larimer
Amanda grew up in Salt Lake City and attended Brigham Young University on a fulltuition
academic scholarship. Amanda and her husband, Craig, pursued their dreams
of parenthood 14 years ago, and are now the parents of five children, residing in
Portland, Oregon. Amanda worked for several years in finance at PaineWebber (now
UBS) as an Associate Stock Broker. Today, she teaches Art Literacy and Junior Great
Books. A running enthusiast, Amanda raced in the Portland-to-Coast relay and four
half-marathons. She loves a sunny sky and clean laundry.

Puerto Rico - Basthy Piñero
Basthy was born in Humacao, Puerto Rico and graduated from
the Turabo University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. While at
the university, she met Josu. De Le.n Rosario. The couple later married and welcomed
son, Steven. Professionally, Basthy is the Administrative Assistant for RRR
Engineering Services Company. In her free time, she and her husband lend their
talents to the Boy Scouts. Basthy was recently named Community Mother 2011,
Young Mother of Humacao 2012, and Young Mother of Puerto Rico 2012.

Texas – Gabrielle Cheney
A nature enthusiast at heart, Gabrielle loves spending time outdoors with husband,
Stephen, and their beloved children. A mother of three, Gabrielle tragically lost her
daughter, Ida, to a heart defect, and finds solace through hiking, reading, gardening,
and serving her church. Hoping to expand their family even further through adoption,
Gabrielle is realizing her ever-increasing capacity for love as a foster parent.

Utah – Lori Conger
Lori grew up in a small Wyoming town, where she excelled academically and athletically.
After high school, Lori attended Eastern Wyoming College, served a mission
in Utica, New York for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and then
finished her degree in elementary education at Utah State University. The preschool
teacher and her husband, Daniel, are the parents of five children. A hostage survivor,
Lori’s experience taught her to take advantage of every day, to do the most important
things first, and to never miss a chance to tell your children you love them.